Though occasionally branching out with special featured menu items at Gatlin’s BBQ, pitmaster Greg Gatlin has long been associated with his juicy barbecue. Now, he’s diving deep into Gulf cuisine and Southern foodways this week with the opening of his newest restaurant, Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers.
The sister to Gatlin’s BBQ, Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers officially opened Friday, July 15, at 302 West Crosstimbers Street, paying tribute to the barbecue king’s upbringing in the historic Independence Heights neighborhood, where weekend fish fries and fried chicken after church were commonplace, Gatlin says.
Gatlin, Gatlin BBQ’s executive chef Michelle Wallace, and Fins & Feathers chef de cuisine Darius King developed the menu, which serves up chicken and fish, as the restaurant’s name suggests, and harnesses Southern flavors with a Houston flair, which is visible with starters alone.
Appetizers include both fresh and char-grilled oysters topped with herb butter and parmesan, sweet and spicy miso wings, shrimp and crab campechana, a duck leg quarter slow roasted in a mole rojo, and buttermilk biscuits with jam for good measure.
The generous portions of fried chicken — accompanied by a choice of sides like slow-braised red beans with smoked sausage and white rice, baked mac and cheese, seasoned crinkle-cut fries, collard greens with smoked turkey, and baby red potato salad — are an obvious standout, but other fowl options abound.
There’s chicken that’s smoked, jerked, stuffed in enchiladas, and in fried tenders form. Most intriguing though, is the Clucker board; this poultry-driven version of a charcuterie offers a sampling of Sichuan-spiced chicken cracklings, fried gizzards, chipotle-glazed chicken feet, smoked chicken liver pate, and berbere-spiced quail. The H-town hot sandwich, made with the customer’s choice of fried fish or chicken, is dunked in a tantalizing Viet-Cajun hot sauce and topped with slaw and pickles.
And as one does when incorporating the foodways of the Gulf Coast, there’s no shortage of seafood at Fins & Feathers. Options include fried shrimp platters; an upscale rendition of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish; catfish that’s blackened or cornmeal-crusted and fried; and a catch of the day that’s grilled and served with chili sambal and cilantro-lime rice. The Everything gumbo, made with a dark roux, is loaded with shrimp, crab, smoked sausage, and okra.
Children can get in on the experience, too. The kid’s menu makes sure the littles have options like chicken or catfish tenders, and doughnut holes for dessert. Adults can opt for the grown-up sweets version, with Fins’ dreamsicle donut, or opt for other options, like the New York-style cheesecake or the apple and pecan pies.
The restaurant already holds much sentimental value for Gatlin, who not only grew up in the area but frequented the restaurant’s location, which formerly housed Herrera’s Mexicatessen Restaurant — an establishment Gatlin and his family dined at growing up. He wants to convey that same feeling familiar and comforting feeling to other Houstonians through Fins, he notes.
“I really wanted [Fins & Feathers] to just be a place where people can really sit down and have a meal with friends and family. And we want to have the same consistency that we’ve always had to be a Houston staple,” Gatlin told Eater Houston ahead of the opening. “We want to be around a long time. It ties into who we are and what we believe – in our mission at our restaurant group is faith, family, and food, and we want to grow those things all equally.”
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays, Fins & Feathers will officially introduce its brunch offerings on Sundays in September.